August is Read-A-Romance Month and all month, we are celebrating this beloved genre. In this exclusive interview series, I am talking with some of my favorite romance authors.
Today the spotlight is on Ann Christopher, whose Warner series is the reason I love political romances. Her ‘Deadly’ series is one to read if you love romantic suspense novels as much as I do.
August is Read-A-Romance Month, why is writing (and reading) romance important to you?
Thanks for having me! I’ve always enjoyed writing (back in school, English was my favorite class) and I love stories about love. That’s what interests me. If I watch a documentary about Lincoln, for example, I’ll always want to know more about what happened with Mary Todd. Did they love each other? Did they have a good marriage? That’s just where my mind goes. And if that’s where my mind goes, what else would I write? 😉
When did you know you wanted to be an author?
It took a big leap of faith to pivot from being a lawyer, and then a stay-at-home mom, to trying to write a novel, but I got serious about it after I read Stephen King’s On Writing: A Memoir Of The Craft in 2001. He made it sound do-able. I highly recommend it for people thinking about writing as a career.
Where do you find the inspiration for your stories?
I wish I knew! If I did, I’d spend a lot more time in that place. 😉 I got the idea for Monstrum while half-asleep on the sofa one afternoon. A lot of plot points for books already in progress appear when I’m doing mindless activities, like putting on my makeup or washing dishes. Which is a shame because I, of course, hate washing dishes!
What is your favorite part about being an author?
After I finish the first draft of a novel, which is just the process of getting the story out of my head and making it to the end of the plot, no matter how rough the story is, I like to set it aside for a while. Weeks, if possible, but I rarely have that much time to spare. And then I like to pick it up again, having forgotten half of what I wrote, and polish it up. The time distance gives me the perspective to see what’s wrong with the story and to slice and dice to get it where it needs to be.
Other good parts about being an author? Working from home. Flexibility. Making characters come to life. Creating a whole world from a blank computer screen.
Do you have a special writing routine? Any must-haves before you start a project?
My routine involves a lot of checking e-mail, making tea (English breakfast), starting laundry or dinner and/or errands (real or imagined) to Target. Then, when I’ve exhausted all possible excuses for the day, I sit down at the computer and fidget. Read the news. Look at cat pictures.
By then, of course, it’s time for more tea. 😉
Eventually—and you may find this hard to believe—I do focus in and get some writing done. When I’m in the zone, which is typically between eleven and three, I can write anywhere from 5-10 pages per day, and they’re usually good pages that don’t require a lot of editing. Sometimes before I sit down, I’ll jot some notes about things to include in that scene. That really helps my productivity level.
Every now and then, I sternly tell myself to stop messing around and sit down at, say, nine and get started. That never works. I just get frustrated, staring at a blank screen until eleven, because all of the procrastinating is part of the getting-ready-to-write process. And I think that’s when the ideas sneak into my head.
BTW, you didn’t ask whether I’m a plotter or a pantser. I’d say I’m a plotting semi-pantser, which means that I know something about the characters and the overall story arc before I start writing a book, with benchmarks along the way, but I discover a lot of the finer points when I’m actually writing. A good analogy? I’m driving to Hilton Head from Cincinnati. I know I’ll hit Knoxville, Asheville, and Columbia along the way—those are the big points—but there may be detours here and there. Side roads that need exploring when I get there. Writing is like that.
You’ve written quite a few books over the years, do you have a favorite character? If so, who is it and why?
Favorite character…favorite character…nope. Can’t choose among my children like that. 😉 I do love writing children and pets. And it was fun to get into Kareem Gregory’s head in the Deadly series because he is a true sociopath. So special mention goes to him. The challenge for me was to make him three-dimensional. He has his point of view and his own moral code. He thinks that he’s a great guy and everyone else should be more like him. Yeah, sure, Kareem. 😉
Let’s also give special mention to Daniel (I really put him through the ringer) and Zoya (she’ll say anything to anyone; she doesn’t care) in Unforgettable. It was a blast to resurrect their lost love.
What book of yours do you think would serve as the perfect introduction to someone who may be unfamiliar with your work?
Hmmm…let’s go with Risk. It’s a sexy and emotional tale about opposites attracting—and sticking!
Rapid Fire Questions:
Favorite romance novel: Brenda Joyce’s The Game. Love it!
Favorite romance author: Too many to name.
Favorite TV show: Let’s see. Well, I binged on Being Mary Jane in the spring (she was too stupid to live for a while, but then I really started to like her), and then on The Real Housewives of New York (Bethenny and Carole are my faves). Now I’ve moved on to The Real Housewives of Atlanta (Phaedra! How could you do that to Kandi???).
My all-time favorite show is Breaking Bad. Why? Because I appreciate the effort and skills that go into creating compelling characters, and I just cannot overemphasize the genius of Vince Gilligan (the writer/showrunner) and Bryan Cranston (who played Walter White). If I ever meet either of them, I will absolutely lose my freaking mind.
Same with you, Shonda Rhimes, if you’re reading this! 😉
Favorite movie: The Godfather. It’s got everything.
Which one of your books would you like to see on the big screen? Monstrum. I’d love to see the special effects! And maybe Andy Serkis could take a break from being Caesar, Gollum and King Kong to be the CGI-generated monster! It could work, right? 😉
ABOUT ANN CHRISTOPHER
A recovering lawyer, Ann Christopher is an award-winning contemporary romance author. Her series include JOURNEY’S END (small-town contemporary romance), THE DAVIES LEGACY (Harlequin contemporary romance) and WARNER FAMILY SECRETS & LIES (Harlequin contemporary romance). Ann has also written 5 novellas, one young adult novel, MONSTRUM, first in her BELLA MONSTRUM horror trilogy, and a tragically bad starter novel that will forever remain under her bed, where it belongs.
When she’s not writing or communing with her readers on her Facebook page (AnnChristopherAuthor), Ann likes to do the following, in no particular order: read; cook; eat; hang out at Target looking for new stuff she doesn’t need; crochet; quilt; play with her 2 rescue dogs and 2 rescue cats; and travel the world with her family.
Her favorite cities are Washington, D.C., Venice and Paris, in case you were wondering. She lives in Ohio with her husband and over-scheduled teenagers.
If you’d like to recommend a great book, share a recipe for a homemade cake of any kind, or have a tip for getting your teens to do what you say the FIRST time you say it, Ann would love to hear from you!
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